Dr. Eric Wells’ research work is centered around understanding and controlling molecular dynamics in strong laser fields.
Ultrashort laser pulses have properties that suggest they might be used to directly influence chemical reactions: The force exerted by the laser field can be comparable to the electric force that holds a molecule together, and the pulse can be turned on and off before the molecule will move significantly. Thus, the precise application of a customized laser pulse to an individual molecule might enable the modification of the molecule in a targeted, desired manner. The Augustana atomic, molecular & optical (AMO) physics group developed a method for coupling three-dimensional ion-imaging of molecular fragments to a feedback loop that uses an adaptive learning algorithm to design laser pulses that can control specific molecular processes, such as hydrogen migration and bond rearrangement.
Augustana students carry out this work using the laser facilities of the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University as part of a long-standing collaboration between the two institutions.
Thirty-two undergraduate students have co-authored 22 different articles as part of the work of the Augustana AMO. The research is supported by the National Science Foundation. Wells’ sabbatical leaves at Kansas State have been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Representative Publications (AU indicates an Augustana undergraduate co-author)
Travis Severt, Eleanor WeckwerthAU, Balram Kaderiya, Peyman Feizollah, Bethany Jochim, Kurtis Borne, Farzaneh Ziaee, Kanaka Raju P., Kevin D. Carnes, Marcos Dantus, Daniel Rolles, Artem Rudenko, Eric Wells, and Itzik Ben-Itzhak, “Initial state characterization of hydrogen migration in ethanol”, submitted to Nature Communications (2023).
T. Severt, Darwin R. Daugaard, Tiana TownsendAU, F. Ziaee, K. Borne, S. Bhattacharyya, K.D. Carnes, D. Rolles, A. Rudenko, E. Wells, and I. Ben-Itzhak. “Two-body dissociation of formic acid following double ionization by ultrafast laser pulses”. Phys. Rev. A 105, 053112 (2022).
Tiana TownsendAU, Charles J. SchwartzAU, Bethany Jochim, Kanaka Raju P., T. Severt, Naoki IwamotoAU, J.L. NapieralaAU, Peyman Feizollah, S.N. TegegnAU, A. Solomon, S. ZhaoAU, K.D. Carnes, I. Ben-Itzhak, and E. Wells, “Controlling H3+ formation from ethane using shaped ultrafast laser pulses.” Frontiers in Physics 9, 691727 (2021). DOI: 10.3389/fphy.2021.691727.
Naoki IwamotoAU, Charles J. SchwartzAU, Bethany Jochim, Kanaka Raju P., Peyman Feizollah, J.L. NapeiralaAU, T. Severt, S.N. TegegnAU, A. SolomonAU, S. ZhaoAU, Huynh Lam, Tomthin Nganba Wangjam, V. Kumarappan, K.D. Carnes, I. Ben-Itzak, and E. Wells, “Strong-field control of H3+ production from methanol dications: Selecting between local and extended formation mechanisms”, J. Chem. Phys. 152, 054302 (2020). DOI: 10.1063/1.5129946
E. Wells, C.E. RallisAU, M. Zohrabi, R. Siemering, B. JochimAU, P.R. AndrewsAU, U. Ablikim, B. Gaire, S. De, K.D. Carnes, B. Bergues, R. de Vivie-Riedle, M.F. Kling, and I. Ben-Itzhak, “Adaptive Strong-field Control of Chemical Dynamics Guided by Three-dimensional Momentum Imaging”, Nature Communications 4:2895 (2013). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3895